Program could help LPS graduation rates

LPS has applied for a federal grant that would help kids realize just how important it is to graduate high school.

They're up against districts all over the United States but district officials say they have a decent shot of getting it.

Dr. Mike Wortman, principal at Lincoln High says, “Any high school has students that sometimes need extra help and support.  A grant like this would allow us to meet the needs of that student and we could work with students who maybe have an issue with attendance or grades.”

Lincoln High is one of three high schools in the district that would benefit from this grant, along with North Star and Northeast.   The average graduation rate among the three is 73%.  That's compared to the district's 82% and the state's 89%.

There are already programs in place to help kids get their diploma, but this would take it a step further and have kids team up with groups outside of school.  Student Joshua Cramer says, “some days that's very difficult, with the number of students in the classroom.  The partners we'd be working with would help build more relationships which, in turn, would help students be more connected to school and graduate on time.”

Dr. Wortman says this can only help those who are maybe slipping through the cracks.  “With the number of students we have, some have issues that aren't necessarily met in a classroom, so sometimes we need some extra services.”

While LPS is in much better shape than many other districts in the country, Josh says better off isn't good enough.  “Until we have 100% graduation rates, we won't be satisfied.  That's why you see us continuing to work on that and you see high school teachers working hard day” in and day out to increase those rates.

On Tuesday the school board will need to vote on being able to accept this grant.  Then LPS is hoping to find out if they win it sometime in September.  The grant is worth about $5 million over the next five years.